Category Archives: Criminal law

Forensic toolbox: Assessment of Miranda waivers – the SAMA (Structured Assessment of Miranda Waivers).

The assessment of Miranda waivers is a common task for the general practice forensic psychologist. Up until recently, psychologists had Grisso’s Miranda measure to utilize in these situations (see Frumkin, et al, 2012). Richard Rogers and his colleagues have recently released a significant new forensic assessment instrument marketed by PAR Inc. The SAMA comprises five […]

VRAG Update

The VRAG is the granddaddy of static violence risk measures. Regardless of the fact that most all static risk measures perform equivalently (the “coffee can” risk assessment, Kroner et al, 2005), the VRAG is the mainstay of violence risk assessment. The authors update the VRAG with a sample of 1,261 offenders, fewer than half of […]

Mass Murder in Hawaii — Byran Uysesugi and the Xerox shootings (1993)

Readers may be interested in knowing more about the 1993 mass murder at Xerox in Honolulu. [If you have trouble viewing this powerpoint slideshow on a mobile device, click on full-screen icon in upper right just above the slide area.]

Analysis of Competing Hypotheses (ACH) — a method for de-biasing forensic decision making

I recently attended a three day workshop on school, campus, and workplace threat assessment and became acquainted with ACH. It is a methodology developed by the CIA and is used to consider evidence when factors are complex or ambiguous. Given the many factors that can influence forensic decision making, including examiner decision thresholds, cost of […]

Psychopathic sexuality– a component of psychopathy?

There has been a running debate over the past 18 years as to whether psychoapthy is a “taxon”;  “an entity, type, syndrome, disease, or more generally, a nonarbitrary class.” The concept goes back to Paul Meehl (1982; 1995) who laid out the importance of the concept for classifying psychopathology. Harris, Rice and Quinsey (1994) argued that psychopathy is a taxon, […]

Forensic conundrum: Geriatric competency to stand trial evaluations

Does old age render you incompetent? Incompetent elders have started showing up in increasing numbers, in both civil (testamentary/contractual competency, guardianship proceedings) and criminal arenas (competency to stand trial). We have adopted what we consider a powerful new assessment approach to forensic neurocognitive assessments based on Pearson’s WAIS-IV-WMS-IV-ACS combo and started looking at the data. Table A.2 […]

Clinical Report: Identification and Evaluation of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

This superb article sums up the information comprehensively. Available at the American Academy of Pediatrics website in pdf.

Pate-Fires v. Astrue, 564 F.3d 935 (8th Cir. 2009): More on treating clinicians vs. expert witnesses

Mental examiners are often asked “to determine whether noncompliance with medication is a direct result of the psychiatric disorder.” This is another interesting US Court of Appeals ruling with implications for psychiatric/psychological testimony. The review of the case in the current JAAPL (39, 1, 2011, pp. 121-123) notes “…mental health providers have a substantial role […]

Psychology and the Human Condition II

If I had to rely on psychology for what I know about people, it would be pitifully thin. Sources that I have found useful in my understanding of the human condition, including freedom, guilt, and responsibility: Homer,  Sophocles, Aeschylus, Ovid, Augustine, Old and New Testaments (especially the Gospels), St. Paul (esp., the Letter to the […]

The Judge’s Dilemma—Management of Domestic Violence Claims in Family Court (corrected)

Domestic violence advocates are dissatisfied with Family Court management of custody cases, asserting that Family Court judges “marginalize or throw out” domestic violence claims. Others argue that false or one-sided claims of domestic violence are used to gain the upper hand in custody disputes. Domestic violence (DV) is a real and pervasive problem and the […]